Stitch of the Month
September 2001:
Buttonhole Stitch

by Joni Stevenson

The Buttonhole Stitch is an edging stitch most often used on linen or other fine fabrics, but can also be used on canvas.  It's worked near the edge of the ground fabric, then the excess fabric is cut away.

To work the Buttonhole Stitch begin with an away waste knot.  The stitch covers four threads.  Begin by bringing your needle up to point 1.  Go right one canvas thread and up four canvas threads to point 2.  Slide your needle under 4 canvas threads and over the thread you are working with at point 3.

Buttonhole Stitch Step 1A
Step 1B
Continue the next stitch to the right of your first stitch as shown in Step 2.

Step 2

When you are near the end of your thread, leave the old thread hanging on the front of your work -- make sure that there is enough thread to complete another stitch and end the thread on the back of your work.  Anchor a new thread through the back of several pervious stitches and come up 1 canvas thread to the right of your last stitch.  This will leave a gap as shown in Step 3.


Step 3

Later, rethread the old thread and slide your needle under the first new stitch and go up 4 canvas threads to complete the missing stitch as shown in Step 4.  End your thread on the back.

Sample stitched by
Shirley Kahler


Step 4

Continue stitching in this manner along the entire edge you are finishing.  

Once the edge is completed using the Buttonhole Stitch, you are ready to cut your canvas away.  Carefully cut the canvas as shown in Step 5, being careful not to cut through your stitches.

Sample stitched by
Shirley Kahler

Step 5

On canvas, the edges will be imperfect as the canvas threads will not pull back away from the edge slightly as they do on linen fabric.  Therefore, there will be little "nubs" showing along the edge.

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